Flibbery Jib

Lyrics: Ken Nordine
Music:

Recited by Ken Nordine during the "space" section of the Grateful Dead's performance on 11 March 1993.

There was this stranger who came into our town
Who was tall and dark
And had eyes that could look right down into the bottom of you
And he got us all together in the huge auditorium
We were in the dark
And he was on the stage
And he began to chan
First with a whisper we could hardly hear
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
We didnít know what it meant
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
He had trapped us without our knowing it
And by little and little he took us
Into the world of magic
And we began to chant with him
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
And the magic was in us
And he was on the stage saying yes, yes, yes

But there were those among us who were jealous of his powers
And didnít want him up there
They made foolishness of what he was doing, these critics
And little by little they said
What heís saying doesnít mean anything
And he lost faith in himself
He became smaller and smaller
And he left our town
Saying no, no, no

We lived through the time that followed
We lived on histories and hopes
Until the miracle that we thought would never happen
Happened again
Another stranger came into our town
And he too was tall and dark
And had eyes that could look right down into the bottom of you
And he got us together in the big auditorium
With him on the high stage
And we were in the dark
And he began to chant
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
And we joined in
And the magic again was in us
But you know what happened?
Little by little, a little later on
The critics made nonsense of what we were doing
And he left our town saying no, no, no

By the way
How are things in your town?
This was a slightly shortened version of the full piece on "Word Jazz":
There was this stranger who came into our town
He was tall, and had a dark look about him
And a special brilliance was in his eyes
And when he looked at us
It was the feeling he could see right down to the bottom
We may have been mistaken in this
But at the time, no questions were asked
The questions always come later
All we cared about was the mystery we sensed in this stranger
And we waited to see what would happen

One evening, that was different from any other
He got us all together in the big auditorium
He stood there, on the huge stage
The only light was on him
And we waited in the dark
Then, out of his tallness came the chanting
First, as a whisper we could hardly hear
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
It didn't make any sense
We were caught up in something we didn't understand
He had trapped us, without our knowing it
Possibly it was his manner
And we came alive to him
As he slowly moved us with his chant
Through the land of hush
Into insistent, savage, throbbing crescendos of ecstasy
As if it were the only thing we could do
We started to chant with him
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
And he was up on the high stage, laughing with all his might
Shouting yes, yes, yes
But there were those among us who were jealous of his power
Who felt they should be in the center of the stage
With the light shining on them
They were against our hero
And the chanting
And our going to be with him every free moment
And so, little by little, a little later
These critics set to work
To make nonsense out of the sense of what we were doing
And they succeeded
They destroyed our hero's faith in himself
He didn't have it any more
After a few, disappointing times
In the big auditorium
The light gone out of him
We all stopped going
And the man who had once seemed so tall
And who now seemed so much smaller
Left our town
Saying no, no, no

We lived through the boredom of the time that followed
Telling each other pale stories of what once was
And what might have been if
We lived on histories and hopes
We did this
Until the miracle we never thought would happen again, happened
Another stranger came into our town
And he too was tall and dark
And had eyes that could look right down into the bottom of you
And he got us all together in the big auditorium
And with the light on him
We were in the dark
He chanted
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
The flibberty jib on the bipperty bop
And we joined in, and the magc was in us
And he was laughing
And all his might was with him
And he was shouting yes, yes, yes
But there were those among us who were jealous and so forth
You know, you know what they did

Little by little, a little later
They put us back on the narrow path
This is the way things have been in our town
For as long as anyone cares to remember
By the way
How are things in your town?
Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     1957 Word Jazz Ken Nordine